April is a time for change.
The new location, last occupied by Plaza Liquor, is about double the size of Welhaven’s longtime downtown spot. Plus, Welhaven’s customer parking is expanding from just two spots to 15.
This move follows Welhaven’s recent merger with Music Mart, another Minnesota-based, family-owned music center.
Music Mart took over the retail shop and the business of leasing instruments for school bands. Brothers John and Tom Welhavencontinue to operate the instrument repair shop as an independent, related operation.
Joe Meidl, the owner of Music Mart, purchased the 5,000-square-foot West River Parkway space in late 2018.
This move marks the end of an era. The music instrument shop and repair business has operated in downtown Rochester in various locations since Earl Welhaven started it in 1954.
Earl and Margaret "Peggy" Welhaven opened their first store, Rochester Instrument Repair, near the corner of Broadway and Fourth Street Southwest. Upon moving to a location on First Avenue Southwest, the store changed to Welhaven Music Co. The store later moved to 228 S. Broadway and then to the North Broadway spot in 1966.
John and Jim Welhavenstill own the 2,596-square-foot building tucked between a Center Street city parking ramp and a mosque. The store has been listed for sale for two years. While some developers have shown interest, no deals have closed.
John Welhaven says he’ll miss many things about being downtown. However, accessible parking without the worry of being ticketed and no swarming crows will be big improvements.
"it is with both sadness and excitement for us to make this move. John, Tom and Jim Welhaven spent many years working with their dad, Earl, and have grown up in the downtown area. This is a big change for them, along with their staff, longtime customers, school partners and the Rochester community," said Music Mart owner Meidl.
The Welhavens, who are represented by Rochester Realtor Bucky Beeman, hope vacating the 104-year-old shop will make it more attractive to buyers interested in being part of the Destination Medical Center-driven real estate boom in downtown.